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Who put chewing gum or something in my trees?

May 20, 2010

No, it is not an old chewing gum. If you pick it up and turn it, you will see it has a red blotch underneath. This is the Chinese wax bug (Ceroplastes pseudoceriferus, Hemiptera, Coccoidea). This is a scale insect which feeds on the sap from the tree (Cassia or Shorea for example). The adult female has no legs and can not move, and she is protected by a thick wax coating. The wax also protects her from many pesticides, why oil or soap with water works better. At Dokmai Garden we simply remove the females by hand. The young newborn nymphs can run around.

Interestingly, these insects were collected in the past, put in textile bags and then the bags were thrown into boiling water. The wax would melt, and upon cooling there would be a solid wax layer on top of the water. The wax, also called “Chinese wax”, could be used for making candles or to polish wood. The bag with the dead insect bodies would be fed to the swine. 

Eric Danell

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